|Publication number||US7760369 B2|
|Application number||US 12/104,277|
|Publication date||Jul 20, 2010|
|Filing date||Apr 16, 2008|
|Priority date||Apr 16, 2007|
|Also published as||DE602007006763D1, EP1983299A1, EP1983299B1, US20080252907|
|Publication number||104277, 12104277, US 7760369 B2, US 7760369B2, US-B2-7760369, US7760369 B2, US7760369B2|
|Original Assignee||Moba-Mobile Automation Ag|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (6), Classifications (7), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims priority from European Patent Application No. 07007719.3, which was filed on Apr. 16, 2007, and is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.
The present invention relates to an apparatus and a method for determining an elevation of a working tool with respect to a reference plane.
In order to direct a construction machine or more generally a working tool on a construction site, there is a need for determining not only a position of the construction machine along horizontal directions, but also to obtain and control a vertical elevation. There are different methods available for surveying a ground profile and to direct working tools or construction machines accordingly. For example, a system to measure the absolute position can be set up on the basis of GPS (GPS=Global Positioning System). A different system measures local or relative positions with respect to a reference point and uses for example so-called total stations or laser transmitters. Also combinations of both systems are known.
Moreover, simple measuring tools are available that use an existing ground profile as a basis on which a new ground profile is developed.
GPS-based positioning systems, e.g. hand-held or mounted systems, are generally known. To achieve an increased position accuracy different approaches are possible. For example, a reference station or RTK evaluation (RTK=Real Time Kinematics) can be used, and depending on effort and resources position accuracy in a centimeter range is possible.
In systems using the total station, a robot guided measuring station follows a prism mounted on a movable part and transmits the evaluated coordinates to a recipient, that evaluates on the basis of this data a local position of the prism within the construction site. The effort is significant and in systems using the total station only one prism can be followed at a given time, which is disadvantageous although the position accuracy reaches already a sub-centimeter range.
Laser-based systems are used in cases where the knowledge about the elevation above a horizontal or reference plane is more important than the exact position within the horizontal plane. This is, for example, the case for construction at a known position or for underground construction of buildings or drainage.
Conventional laser systems are described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,441,809, in which at least two fan-shaped laser beams are transmitted (for example, having a cross section of a V or an X) so that at each revolution two signals are generated at each detector. A radio unit is used to provide a strobe signal. A further laser system is described in US 2003/0137658, which has no radio unit but uses instead a GPS receiver. The disclosure employs also at least two fan-shaped laser beams.
Also combined GPS- and laser-based systems are known. The GPS signal is used as a coarse elevation information. The laser system transmits fan-shaped laser beams (as a Z-shaped laser beam, for example) and is used to improve significantly the vertical accuracy or resolution, i.e. the information about the elevation along a z-axis. This method is known as millimeter-GPS and combines the advantage of high precision measurement with the possibility of using the system simultaneously by various participants. It is, however, technically very costly.
According to an embodiment, an apparatus for determining an elevation of a working tool relative to a reference plane may have: a rotary laser system emitting a rotating laser beam that spans upon rotation a plane inclined relative to the reference plane by an inclination angle; a detector mounted on the working tool for detecting the laser beam, wherein: a radio unit configured to measure a distance between the working tool and the rotary laser system using an elapsed time between a transmitted and a returned radio signal, wherein the apparatus is adapted to determine the elevation of the working tool on a basis of the inclination angle α and the distance between the working tool and the rotary laser system.
According to another embodiment, a method for determining an elevation of a working tool to a reference plane may have the steps of: emitting a rotating laser beam that spans upon rotation a plane, the plane being inclined by an inclination angle with respect to the reference plane, wherein there further is: measuring a distance between the rotary laser system and the detector on the working tool using an elapsed time between a transmitted and a returned radio signal of a radio unit, wherein the elevation of the working tool is evaluated on a basis of the inclination angle and of the measured distance.
In accordance with embodiments of the present invention, an apparatus for determining an elevation of a working tool relative to a reference plane comprises a rotary laser system emitting a rotating laser beam in a plane, which comprises an inclination angle with the reference plane, a radio unit configured to measure a distance between the working tool and the rotary laser system and a detector mounted on the working tool for detecting the laser beam. The elevation of the working tool is determined on a basis of the inclination angle and the distance between the working tool and the rotary laser system.
In accordance with embodiments of the present invention, a method for determining an elevation of a working tool relative to a reference plane comprises emitting a rotating laser beam from a rotary laser system, wherein the rotating laser beam spans a plane inclined with respect to the reference plane. Based on the corresponding inclination angle and a measurement of a distance between the rotary laser system and the detector on the working tool, the elevation of the working tool is evaluated.
Conventional laser transmitters operate such that a rotating mirror reflects by 90° a point-like vertical aligned laser beam. As a consequence, a horizontal light plane can be generated, which exhibits a small convergence and reaches a radius of approximately 300 meters. Since the whole unit can be arranged on an internal self-leveling platform, a stable optical reference can be obtained and detected by a vertical array of photo diodes.
Embodiments of the present invention combine the aforementioned rotary laser system and the radio-based distance measurement module resulting in a radio based laser-positioning system and possible operating principles can be summarized as follows.
The laser system according to embodiments of the present invention extends the aforementioned laser-based system in a way that, instead of a point-like laser beam, a rotating laser beam is generated and that by employing internal adjustment elements the plane of the rotating laser beam can be inclined with respect to two perpendicular axes in a (x,y)-plane from which the elevation is measured. This adjustment can be done dynamically by using a radio signal, wherein dynamically refers to the possibility that the inclination angle can be changed online, that means without turning off the laser beam followed by a change of the inclination angle and subsequently turning on the laser beam again. In contrast to convention laser systems, which interrupt the emission of light during an adjustment of the inclination angle, the laser system according to the present invention is able to change the inclination angle of the beam plane without interrupting the laser beam.
Codable distance measurement modules rely for example on radio signals (e.g. using 5.8 GHz) and are known as LPR-B (LPR=Local Positioning Radar). A black box transmits a radio signal and another apparatus, located at a specific distance (with an approximate maximum of 1000 meters) receives the signal and returns a coded signal. The original transmitter receives the returned information and evaluates from a time delay between transmitting the signal and receiving the return signal the distance to the apparatus. A conceivable accuracy is within or even below the centimeter range. With this method it is possible to measure by simple means distances between the rotary laser system and the detector. The detector can be mobile or stationary.
Typically, a rotary laser system rotates with 10 . . . 20 revolutions per second. The detector at the machine (working tool) and a hand held detector are built in a similar way. The detector at the machine, however, can comprise a signal-processing unit on a CAN-bus in order to be able to change appropriately controlling and steering elements of the working tool.
Hence, embodiments of the present invention comprise, for example, the following components:
The laser transmitter as well as the detector comprises additional radio units or modules for a distance measurement. In case the detector detects a laser pulse from the laser transmitter, a distance measurement can be initiated by using the radio modules. The distance measurement uses an elapsed time between a transmitted and returned radio signal so that after the elapsed time the result of the distance measurement is available. Together with the evaluated elevation angle, the elevation can be evaluated and displayed.
The rotary laser system can be set up at a boundary of a construction site and generates by the rotating laser beam an optical reference plane, which can be inclined with respect to two axis in the (x,y)-plane. This can be done, for example, by inclining the mirror, which reflects the laser beam to generate the rotating laser beam. In case the laser beam hits the detector, which is placed, for example, on the working tool on the construction site, a distance measurement can be initiated by the detector by using an integrated module.
A computer can calculate an actual elevation of the detector over the reference plane by using information about the inclination angle and the distance between the detector and the rotary laser system. If the detector is mounted on the working tool, the elevation of the working tool can be calculated as well. For a known relative position of the detector (in comparison to the rotary laser system) it is possible, by means of a model for the area or construction site to change the inclination angle of the laser system in a way, that the detector can detect possible deviations from a target value and to adjust, for example, by a hydraulics of the working tool the elevation of the working tool to the target value. This is, for example, possible if the detector comprises a row of photocells, which are configured to detect the laser beam in different elevations, so that it becomes sensible for the deviations from the target value. The laser system in turn can transmit the information about the inclination angle to the working tool by using a radio module, which used for the distance measurement, or using a further radio based module.
This information alone, however, is not enough to fix uniquely the position of the working tool or the detector. So far, only two (elevation and distance) of three coordinates are fixed and the therefore the relative position of the detector to the rotary laser system is not yet known. To get all three coordinates, a further measurement of a quantity should be performed, which allows the evaluation of the third coordinate. According to embodiments of the present invention, this can be done by using a time measurement or by means of the hand-held detector. Therefore, the rotary laser system can be synchronized in two different ways, so that arbitrary elevation profiles can be generated on an area.
One possibility is the so-called internal synchronization. In this case, the laser system can be aligned, so that an edge of the of the rotary laser system is parallel to a corner line of a given project (for example, a site line of a sport field or construction site) so that, in a moment of passing of a zero reference mark (e.g. the edge of the rotary laser system) during each revolution a distance measurement can be initiated. The corresponding pulse initiates in a stationary detector (for example, the detector mounted on the working tool) a measurement of time period until the laser signal is detected by the stationary detector. If the rotational velocity ω of the rotating laser beam is known, the angle φ between the edge of the project and the receiver or detector can be evaluated. If the rotary laser system rotates, for example, with a rotational velocity of 10 revolutions per second, each revolution takes 100 milliseconds. The rotary laser system can initiate in the moment the laser beam is parallel to the edge, i.e. at an angle of 0°, a distance measurement and the detector starts a timer. If the laser beam hits the detector, the timer can be stopped. The elapsed time is now a direct measure for the angle, for example, a time period of 25 milliseconds gives an angle of 90° for the case that the rotary laser system rotates by 10 revolutions per seconds.
A second possibility corresponds to an external synchronization. In this case, a further detector can be put on a corner of the area after surveying the working area and hence is not needed anymore. In this case, the line between the rotary laser system and the further detector can be taken as reference mark. In the moment the laser beam is detected by the further detector, a radio signal can be transmitted and a distance measurement can be performed. The stationary detector synchronizes itself on the radio signal and starts a time measurement (e.g. a time starts).
By using the information about the elapsed time between the synchronization starting time and the moment the laser beam is detected, the angle in the (x,y)-plane between the reference mark, the rotary laser system and the stationary detector can be calculated. Hence, together with the distance measurement between the stationary detector and the rotary laser system the relative position in (x,y)-plane and elevation is known. The time synchronization is not needed for the case, where the reference plane is planar and there is no need for a position-dependent elevation control (e.g. for a sport field). In this case there is only a need to direct the elevation of the working tool for all positions in the (x,y)-plane in the same way.
A further possibility to evaluate the coordinates x and y of the stationary detector is to put the further detector at another fixed point and at the synchronization time, three distance measurements can be initiated: a distance measurement between the rotary laser system and the stationary detector, a distance measurement between the further detector and the stationary detector and also a distance measurement between the rotary laser system to the further detector for the calculation of the position. The radio measured distances can then be used to determine the coordinates x and y by using the usual trigonometric equations.
In case information for the target coordinates (e.g. as a digital area model) of the to-be shaped area are available, the information can be processed stationary at the rotary laser system and/or at the working tool (machine). This may be possible, because information about the position (e.g. about the coordinates, angles, etc.) can be exchanged via a radio signal.
Embodiments are advantageous in that an improved reliability can be provided, because neither a GPS signal nor a strobe pulse for synchronization are necessitated. The technology is simple, reliable and available at low cost. Especially radio transponders are very fast and accurate. In addition, only one laser transmitter is needed and an optional hand-held detector can be used to survey the working area and/or to define together with the laser transmitter a reference line. It is furthermore beneficial that the present invention allows combining the elevation control with a local (relative) position control in the reference plane.
Embodiments of the present invention will be detailed subsequently referring to the appended drawings, in which:
The stationary detector 130 will detect a pulse if it is hit by the rotating laser beam 120. When the pulse is detected a distance measurement can be initiated in way that the stationary detector 130 transmits a radio signal 135 and the rotary laser system 110 responds after receiving the radio signal 135 with a radio signal 125. The stationary detector 130 can measure an elapsed time between transmission of the signal 135 and the reception of the return radio signal 125 and determines the distance 127 on the basis of the elapsed time. The return radio signal 125 can be different from the transmitted signal 135 and can comprise a code that identifies the rotary laser system 110. This can be advantageous in that misinterpretations are avoided in cases in which plural radio units operate on the working area. The rotary laser system 110 can comprise a radio-transponder.
In a different embodiment the time at which the distance measurement is initiated can vary. For example, if more laser systems are used on the working area, by using different angular velocities it is possible to trigger each detector on its own laser system and hence a distance measurement can be initiated only if the time delay between two subsequent hits of the laser beam is within an expected time range.
The mounting table 134 can be used to mount the stationary detector 130 at the working tool 100 at a defined position. For example, the working tool 100 can be a construction machine used to level a ground profile of the construction site, this defined position should have a defined height over the ground in order to translate the elevation of the stationary detector 130 over the reference plane 105 into an elevation of the ground with respect to the reference plane 105. The CAN-connection 136 can be used to connect the stationary detector 130 to a processing unit, which performs the evaluations from the data, or to a display if the stationary detector 130 performs the evaluation of the elevation.
The inclination angle α can be chosen in a way, so that the target value for the elevation corresponds to the middle point 137 or another point along the row of photocells 135. By comparing the actual value with the target value for the elevation of the working tool 100, an adjustment of the working tool 100 can be done (e.g. by hydraulics) in order to reach the target value for the elevation of the working tool 100.
As described at
In further embodiments, the stationary detector 130 can transmit information about which the photocell of the row of photocells 138, which detects the rotating laser beam 120 to the rotary laser system 110. Now, the inclination angle α can be adjusted by the rotary laser system 110 in a way, that the rotating laser beam 120 hits the row of photocells 138, for example, close to the middle point 137 or another pre-determined point. An evaluation unit, which can, for example, be on the working tool 100 or any other place, can evaluate from the adjusted inclination angle α the actual value of the elevation 730 above the reference plane 105. This information can be transmitted to the working tool 100, e.g. by means of the radio signals 125, and the working tool 100 can be adjusted so that the elevation 730 coincides with the target value. The target value should be obtained from a model for the area (construction site).
wherein lx denotes the distance of the first corner point 731 from the origin (the rotary laser system 110).
wherein ly denotes the distance of the second corner point 732 from the origin (or to the rotary laser system 110).
Hence, the total elevation 730 of the working tool 100 is given by the sum of hx and hy and can be related to the inclination angles αx and αy by the equation (1) and (2). The aforementioned inclination angle α from the rotary laser system 110 to the working tool 100 can now be evaluated in the following way:
The inclination angles αx and αy can be adjusted by the rotary laser system 110 by inclining the mirror around the y-axis by the αx inclination angle and about the x-axis by the αy inclination angle.
In addition to the measurement the distance 127, the stationary detector 130 can measures a time duration T between the receipt of the radio signal 825 and the moment the rotating laser beam 120 is detected by the array of photocells 138. Again, since the angular velocity ω of the rotating laser beam 120 can be constant and is known, an angle ψ between the two lines connecting the rotary laser system 110 with the further detector 810 and the line of the rotary laser system 110 to the stationary detector 130 can be evaluated (see next formula). In each revolution of the rotary laser system 110, the laser beam 120 hits normally the detectors 130, 810 and in an optional embodiment only some of the hits of the laser beam 120 in a given time period are used to trigger distance measurements (e.g. in order to avoid a data overload).
The distance 127 is denoted in
X=b sin ψ, Y=b cos ψ. (5)
In a different embodiment, the measurement of the distance 127 can be initiated by the rotary laser system 110, namely by sending the radio signal 125 when the rotating laser beam passes 120 a zero reference mark 910 (e.g. ψ=0). At the time the stationary detector 130 receives the radio signal 125, it transmits the radio signal 135 and the rotary laser system 110 evaluates from the elapsed time between transmitting the radio signal 125 and receiving the radio signal 135 the distance 127, which is again denoted by “b” in
In a further embodiment, the coordinates x and y are evaluated not by measuring the angle Ψ, but instead by determining site lengths of a triangle spanned by the rotary laser system 110, the further detector 810 and the stationary detector 130. As discussed at
If moreover a global position of the rotary laser system 110 or the further detector 810 is known, with the relative coordinates X and Y, the global position of the stationary detector 130 can be evaluated too.
In further embodiments, an optional further stationary detector and/or an additional further detector are used to determine an elevation of other working tools 100 and/or to determine relative coordinates to other reference points at the same time. This is especially possible if the reference plane 105 is planar so that there is no need to adjust the inclination angle α dependent on the position of working tools. In an embodiment each component (e.g. the rotary laser system 110, the stationary detector 130 and the further detector 810) can use cadable radio modules so that each component can clearly be identified by its transmitted coded radio signal.
Advantages of embodiments of the present invention comprise the improved reliability, because it neither uses the GPS signal nor a strobe pulse for synchronization. The employed technology is simple, reliable and available at low costs. Especially radio transponders are very fast and accurate. In addition, only one transmitter is needed and an optional hand-held detector 810 can be used to survey the working area and to define together with the laser transmitter a reference line. It is furthermore beneficial that the present invention allows combining the elevation control with a local (relative) position control in the reference plane 105.
While this invention has been described in terms of several embodiments, there are alterations, permutations, and equivalents which fall within the scope of this invention. It should also be noted that there are many alternative ways of implementing the methods and compositions of the present invention. It is therefore intended that the following appended claims be interpreted as including all such alterations, permutations and equivalents as fall within the true spirit and scope of the present invention.
|Cited Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US3736058 *||Apr 15, 1971||May 29, 1973||J M Iadarola||Rotating reflector level rod|
|US4441809||Oct 16, 1980||Apr 10, 1984||Dudley James R||Method and apparatus for determining position|
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|US5534872 *||Jun 22, 1994||Jul 9, 1996||Casio Computer Co., Ltd.||Portable radio signal detecting system|
|US20030137658||Jan 8, 2003||Jul 24, 2003||Fumio Ohtomo||Construction machine control system|
|EP1079029A2||Aug 23, 2000||Feb 28, 2001||MOBA-Mobile Automation GmbH||Method and apparatus for the three dimensional control of a construction machine|
|U.S. Classification||356/623, 356/614|
|Cooperative Classification||G01C15/00, G01C15/004|
|European Classification||G01C15/00, G01C15/00A1|
|Jun 26, 2008||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: MOBA-MOBILE AUTOMATION AG, GERMANY
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Effective date: 20080616
|Dec 23, 2013||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Aug 11, 2016||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: MOBA MOBILE AUTOMATION AG, GERMANY
Free format text: MERGER AND CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNORS:MOBA-MOBILE AUTOMATION AG;MOBA MOBILE AUTOMATION AG;REEL/FRAME:039658/0871
Effective date: 20150903